Now that winter is almost here, I thought I’d show you a few photographs from the autumn we’ve had this year. A few of them are from our courtyard, most are from our garden. Enjoy!
I’ve been hearing our trees calling out to me these past few days, particularly yesterday, when it rained and their leaves were wet, a beautiful kind of colored, almost translucent wet brought on by the autumn winds. They were saying, “Raoul, come out and admire us, you know you want to… Take your camera and come outside.” And I’d say to myself, “Yeah, I really need to set some time aside today to do that,” and then I’d get to work on whatever project was most important and lose all track of time.
I didn’t get to go out yesterday but I did it today and it was worth it. Our entire courtyard is peppered with sour cherry and cherry leaves, paulownia leaves, “platan” leaves (it’s a big tree, grows as big as oak trees, but I can’t find its name in English as I write this), fig leaves, lilac leaves, grape leaves and of course my favorite, delicate white birch leaves.
What’s left on the trees is sheer beauty, bunches of leaves hanging on here and there, some dappled with many colors, some filled out completely with just one hue of autumn’s palette, ready to be admired, lessons in meditation and slow, peaceful focus. Autumn is truly a wonderful time, a time to be enjoyed slowly, savored in little vignettes that we tuck away in the precious corners of our heart and pull out later when we want to feel cozy and nostalgic.
I suppose we feel that way because the passing of these temperate four seasons of ours is a good preparation for life (its beginning, progress and ending). It’s hard not to look at autumn leaves and realize they’re saying goodbye to the world they’ve known for many a day. Some will stick around a little bit longer, most are already on the ground, but they know it and we know it; it’s inevitable. Winter, that time of hibernation, of natural pause, of a rest that explodes back into glorious life as spring arrives, will soon be here.
We too, have our autumns. We know, as we get older, that the time is up ahead. We start to feel it in our bones, our joints, our skin. We turn a little more yellow, the bones become a little brittle, the skin on our faces and bodies begins to tell the story of the experiences we’ve had. We have long autumns, we humans, but somehow they’re still not long enough. We always want to do more, even when we can barely move, when we should be preparing for the transition into the next season of our lives, that great hibernation that no one really knows anything about.
The plants are teaching us that every day matters. They show us how to make the most of the days we have, because sometimes all we have is one year, perhaps even less than that. We look at them and admire them for having accomplished their purpose in life, which was to act as complex, integral parts of a whole, for a while. Created by the whole, they rejoin it as they slowly re-integrate into the earth that gave life to the tree itself and is still providing for it.
Perhaps natural beauty is more beautiful because of its intrinsically ephemeral nature. And perhaps human beauty and human life are meant to work in the same way. Enchant us for a while, like blossoming flowers, then give up their life force in order for other creations to exist.
Don’t take these thoughts of mine too philosophically. They’re merely passing glimpses of subjects we don’t understand and possibly cannot even grasp. The only takeaway here is that we should be beautiful in our lives, to possess a beauty that shines from within and colors us in happy hues. We should bring joy and peace to others. We should make positive contributions to the working of the world in general. And we should learn to give up gracefully what was given to us for just a while, when that time comes.
Even though I should have been in bed, I snuck outside a couple of days ago and took photos in our yard and garden of the beautiful fall foliage and flowers. But I didn’t break my doctor’s advice for too long. I was done in about 15 minutes. And then, short of downloading the photos to my iMac and setting them to sync up to the Adobe cloud, which only took a few minutes, I spent all my time in bed.
Adobe cloud you say? Why? Because Adobe’s come up with an iOS version of Lightroom that’s pretty darn good. And that means all of the photos you see here were edited on my iPad, while in bed. I’m pretty happy about that!
I took these photos about 5½ years ago on a walk at the Audubon Naturalist Society in Chevy Chase, MD. They have such lovely fall foliage in their forest. As I edited the photos for the website, it brought back some fond memories of some of my first years together with my lovely wife. This year is our 10-year anniversary and we’re going to have a baby. The good times go by so fast, don’t they? 🙂
As we near the autumn of 2012, our thoughts turn inward. We think of colder times ahead and we just want to curl up with a book and a nice cup of tea — or look at memories from bygone years, like photos from the autumn of 2005, taken seven years ago. Most of them were taken in Grosvenor Park, a nice, quiet community in Maryland where we were living at the time. You’ll see Ligia in a few of the photos, sitting quietly at the edge of a pond where ducks were getting ready for their annual migration.
In the autumn of 2006, I bought a new camera, a Panasonic DMC-FZ20 with a Leica lens, and for the first time in a long time, I was really happy with my pictures. I could use the camera whichever way I liked. The in-camera JPG conversion worked wonderfully and the photos came out looking great. These photos you see here are among the first few hundred I took with that camera. I hope you’ll like them as much as I do.
Now, because there are a lot of them, I’ll only post a few of them large and post the rest as thumbnails. When you click on a thumbnail below, the website will open it up large, in a lightbox, and even let you scroll between them, so enjoy!
Some of the most striking fall foliage in the DC area can be found at the Audubon Naturalist Society in Bethesda, MD. It’s not majestic, like the kind you find in certain spots of Rock Creek Park, or sweeping, like the kind you see in Shenandoah National Park, but it is striking, and I’ll let the photos explain the term for me.
Do you now see what I mean? Good. Let me just add that you can have a wonderful time walking around their grounds on a Saturday afternoon, especially with your loved one by your side.
Go ahead, click on the thumbnails! You’ll get a full-screen lightbox-view of each photograph, and you can scroll in-between them. It’s pretty cool!
These are photos from a wonderful walk we took in Rock Creek Park (on the Maryland side) in the fall of 2006. It was a beautiful autumn day, the light was wonderful, and the fall foliage was a delightful sight.
This is the oldest tree in Maryland. It’s an oak that dates back to even before the time of the American Revolution. Even though there’s a plaque next to it explaining this, it seems to be a well-kept secret, because in all the years we lived in the DC area, we lived near this tree and we seldom saw people stopping by it.
Is there something more representative of autumn than fallen leaves, being blown about by bracing, sprightly breezes? How about branches under the sway of powerful winds, beckoning chilly autumn rainstorms? I captured these scenes on video in the autumn of 2007, in Grosvenor Park, MD, but only now got around to editing and publishing it.
I’m only sorry that I didn’t have a better video camera at the time, but such is life sometimes. Now I do, and next autumn, I’ll be ready.
You might have noticed some wonderfully dramatic storm clouds in the video. Here are a few photos I took around the same time, with a couple taken that same evening, showing those same clouds.
I took these photos in Rock Creek Park, DC, and in Grosvenor Park, MD. I selected them based on their ability to evoke the quiet hours of autumn afternoons, with the soft golden rays of the sun lighting up the burnished hues of the autumn leaves.
You might notice something else if you click on each photo to see it large… I’ll let those of you familiar with my photos to find out what it is. I may continue to do this in the future…